BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- A new era in gridiron excitement is set to begin shortly for the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference, as football will become the league's newest championship sport beginning with the 2013-14 academic year.
MASCAC Commissioner Angela Baumann announced earlier today that six core conference member institutions: Bridgewater State University, Fitchburg State University, Framingham State University, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Westfield State University and Worcester State University will join with affiliate member institutions Plymouth State University, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Western Connecticut State University to form a nine-team playing league that will kick off conference competition for the 2013 season.
Eight of the nine MASCAC football playing institutions are current members of the New England Football Conference, while Western Connecticut is a current member of the New Jersey Athletic Conference. All nine schools will compete in their current respective conferences during the upcoming 2012 campaign before playing for the inaugural MASCAC title the following season.
"Tradition and competitive excellence have been hallmarks of the MASCAC for over four decades, and the addition of football as a championship sport will undoubtedly add to that tradition," Baumann said. "Our new football league will bring great excitement, enhanced visibility and most importantly, new opportunities for our student-athletes and member institutions going forward."
The MASCAC champion will receive the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Football Championships after the association's mandatory two-year waiting period expires, and all nine football playing institutions will remain eligible for at-large berths during that time.
Bridgewater will leave the NEFC following what will be a 48-year affiliation as a charter member of the conference. BSU, Curry and Maine Maritime founded the NEFC in 1965. The Bears have captured eighth conference championships over the years including the 1999 and 2000 seasons when they received the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
"Today's announcement that Bridgewater State University and our five MASCAC colleagues will be leaving the New England Football Conference to play football as a part of our all-sports conference is bittersweet to say the least," said BSU Director of Athletics, John Harper.
"As a charter member of the NEFC in 1965, BSU has long valued our membership in that venerable conference and the decision to leave the other members was a difficult one," added Harper. "In the end, it was a decision about access and opportunity for all the football student-athletes in the NEFC."
The MASCAC becomes the sixth football playing conference for institutions competing in New England Division III play, joining the New England Football Conference, the New England Small College Athletic Conference, the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference, the Liberty League and the Empire 8. The MASCAC will now sponsor 17 championships for its member schools, a total which also includes the addition of women's lacrosse in the spring of 2013.
- Portions of the release courtesy of MASCAC Director of Media Relations, Jim Seavey